"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Freestyle

We had a great dressage school yesterday.

I had worked until 2:30 am Tuesday night, so I didn't make it out to the barn until the afternoon. I timed it so that I could ride Lily in one of the empty paddocks: the stalled horses are brought in from turnout at 3:00 pm. One of the back paddocks has fairly flat, dry footing and is great for riding.

I tacked Lily up with the Wintec, since I know it 100% fits her now and I wanted to ride in a saddle where I can close my leg on her with less effort (LOOOVE the sheepskin on the Alta Escuela...but it does add about 1/4" of material between Lily and my leg) for a more accurate dressage ride.

Lily was on high alert when she realized I was taking her to a new area to work in. I hand-walked her around as two round bales had just been added to that field. Not that she hasn't seen a round bale before; she has two in her field, but you know how horses are.

She didn't care about the round bales.

I got on.

In my mind, I'd had a vague plan to work on collection. I had intended to get inspiration from the 101 Dressage Exercises book, which I hadn't touched since before Lily's injury, but forgot to look at it.

Well. I walked Lily around on a loose rein a couple times around the paddock and asked her to trot. I sat the trot for maybe 2 strides before Lily, to my complete surprise, arched her neck and bumped me up into posting. She said, "F collection. I wanna trot OUT. Come with me!" I can't remember the last time I rode her down from the get-go...I actually had something of a freight train beneath me. "Really Lily?" I laughed at her and played along. I thought back and remembered having her be like this in the past, and me being afraid...her head was in a good place now, she just wanted to lengthen.

It was an AWESOME WORKOUT. AWESOME.

We worked with a closer contact than we usually do, in part because the reins kept slipping through my fingers (really want Running Bear's SureGrip reins...I love their braided reins, but they do slip when trying to keep the contact.) Lily had no problem with this and made me grin by arching her neck and GOING. I kept her at a long-strided trot by adding some extra hang time to my posting. (She can get quick but very short-strided; slowing my post helps her lengthen her stride.) I wish I could have taken photos of her shadow.

We zoomed around, doing figure 8's using the entire paddock. She asked to do lengthenings on the diagonals and kept her pace through circles in the corners and around the round bales.

We took a walk break halfway through the session and then I asked her for collection at the walk. We did shoulder-ins in circles around the round bales and then proceeded to do haunches-in on the circle in both directions. We both nailed it; we had never attempted this movement. I was able to ask for it without getting in Lily's way, and she was able to do it with the ease of one that has done it a million times before.

I asked her to canter and she gave me a lovely, balanced canter, picking up the gait smoothly from the trot and staying in front of my leg as we went around a circle. I had forgotten what it felt like when she canters like this.

We did one circle in each direction and when I felt her lift in front of my leg, I asked her to maintain for 3 strides then let her go back down into a trot where she stretched down, down, down. I was so exhilarated with her canter that we didn't canter any more after that! I didn't want to mess it up.

I organized her again in the trot and she lifted her front end and started flicking her toes in her best rendition of an extended trot!!! We went like that all the way around the paddock, in both directions.

Pandora, which I always listen to on my iPhone during any kind of solo ride, has an uncanny ability for playing songs that are incredibly appropriate for what is happening in the moment. 

David Guetta's "Little Bad Girl" started playing while Lily and I were zooming around at extended trot. I laughed and had to sing along. Totally appropriate! (Except, of course, Lily was being good but in an awesome badass dressage horse sort of way!)

I've heard this song a million times before but I had not paid attention to the lyrics. It took making the connection between the song and a good ride to get me to listen to what the song says...hahaha...

We took another short walk break after that to let her stretch, then worked on lateral movements at the trot. Lily was being very silly. I had her circle and gently asked for an inside bend. Instead, she popped her inside shoulder to the inside and poked her head to the outside, then when I tried to correct her by asking her to flex around my inside leg, she instead moved off into a mini half-pass. Yup, she was having a ball. I don't think I've ever seen her this happy and goofy about dressage. She wasn't being naughty AT ALL, she was just very enthusiastic! The dressage masters talk about expression in the gaits...this was expression in the movements plus a whole lot of improvisation! 

I insisted on that inside bend and she finally gave, "Oh all right!" but we moved on into leg yielding off a circle at a trot in both directions, just to make her happy. Her leg yields were perfect. I could see her crossing her legs correctly in our shadow on the grass.

I was so thrilled with her at the end that I threw my arms around her neck, thanked her, and kissed her.


I need to ride in that paddock more often. The arena footing is so deep; I'm sure the firm grassy footing of the paddock was a big reason behind her being able to do everything so well!

Afterwards she had her grain + forage mash with warm water and she got bundled up with her Thermo Manager Turnout since it was going to drop into the 20's last night.

I always put her in an empty stall to eat while I pick up all of our stuff.
I pulled her out to put her sheet on...to discover that she had somehow managed to get her entire face covered in mash!

"Whut?"
This was after cleaning up the worst of it from her face...lol



13 comments:

  1. I do miss riding out on the grass/natural ground.

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    1. It's nice to have the option. We had to get creative if we wanted to ride on grass at the old barn.

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  2. I wonder if I could talk our BM into a turf ring. Ashke HATES the deep footing in the arena. And our large outdoor arena has a ton of rock.

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    1. A lot of barns have a tendency to make footing too deep, it seems. It can be bad for their tendons, it fatigues them quicker (just like us running in the soft sand at the beach), and it exacerbates any pain in their body, like arthritis or old soft tissue injuries. I think the only thing deep footing helps prevent is hoof pain from concussion in thin-soled horses. I think the disadvantages far outweigh any advantages. Your BM might be able to section off part of a field or large turnout, depending on the setup at your barn, to use as a turf ring.

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  3. So happy for you, having such a nice, fun relaxed ride. Hope she is that happy next time you take her out!

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  4. Nice pic!! I really loved the last one of you and Lily galloping up the hill, but love the one up now because of the seasonal change. Can't wait for the one of you riding in the snow!!

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    1. Thank you! I loved the one of us galloping up the hill, too, but this is a nice change of scenery. :) Can't wait for the snow one either! Haha...

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  5. Glad to hear your workout went great! BTW, I love the 101 Dressage Exercises book. It totally gets me out of a rut.

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  6. I loved living vicariously through you in this post. Great writing!

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  7. What a great post! Such a good girl Lily is. :D Also too funny how she got her face all messy eating. That's talent right there lol.

    I'm bad about not listening to the lyrics of songs until I decide I like the song (after hearing it several times) and then I force myself to listen to the lyrics. :) Now I have to go listen to that song because I like David Guetta's work (he doesn't actually sing except for maybe two songs), but I've never heard that one.

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    1. I listened to the song. I like it! I thought I recognized the guy's voice so I had to actually look up who sang it. It's Taio Cruz with Ludacris doing the rap part. Thanks for sharing!

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